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Indy Notes: Forbes on How to Stay Focused While Working from Home

Mar 21, 2021
(updated: Dec 5, 2022)
Max 5 min read

I would be lying to you if I told you that I wrote this piece in one sitting with zero distractions. In fact, the truth is I have started and stopped it about five times. I've switched over to new tabs and gone down Wikipedia rabbit holes. I've spent way too long trying to find the right song to get myself in the "flow" to get it written. I just opened Instagram and after that decided to watch videos of my 1-year-old son on my phone.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I need this article from Ashira Prossack at Forbes more than anyone. I get ridiculously distracted all the time. It's a serious problem. Frankly, there is nothing I can really do to fix my broken, highly distracted brain that chases new threads of thought like my dog chases bunnies in my backyard. But there are many things I can do, and that I have done, that help reign in the worst of my impulses. Concentrating while working from home can be even more difficult than it was when I worked in an office. Now I have the temptation to go play with my son or my dogs or to chat with my wife. I'm only a few steps from the couch with it's ever-present siren call saying "Studies show naps are super important and healthy for you and make you more productive." The pantry is just around the corner and beckons me to come see if some new snacks have magically appeared.

[Full disclosure: After writing the paragraph above I just spent 10 minutes doing another work-related task that absolutely could have waited until I finished this Indy Notes article.]

In sum, I need pieces like this one. Prossack's advice is great and can help those of you who suffer from the same impulses that I do. For one, she emphasizes the danger of "half-focusing" which is exactly what I'm doing right now.

Half-focus is the biggest saboteur of all, and it’s especially prevalent during Zoom meetings. Think about how often you find yourself multi-tasking and not paying full attention to the conversation going on in the meeting. That’s half-focusing, and it’s negatively impacting your productivity due to the fact that you aren’t giving either task your full attention.

Don't even get me started on videoconferencing! I had enough trouble focusing in real in-person meetings, but videoconferencing is a whole new level. Prossack's second piece of advice is to manage interruptions by doing things like muting notifications. This is great advice that I sometimes stick to, but don't do enough. For many who work from home it can be difficult to actually turn off notifications because your boss might want to contact you and you may not be in a position to ignore him.

Check out the rest of Prossack's tips in the article. One way that you can limit distractions is to use Indy's Time Tracker tool to figure out exactly how long it takes you to do certain tasks. As for me, I'm headed off to do 30 different things at once instead of concentrating on the one thing I'm supposed to be doing.

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